Little Bits of History

Clint Eastwood’s Political Life

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 8, 2014
Clint Eastwood for Mayor

Clint Eastwood for Mayor

April 8, 1986: An actor who once appeared in a movie with a monkey, is elected as mayor. In January 1986, Clint Eastwood announced he was running for mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The instigation for this change in career was that Eastwood felt the punitive and pecuniary laws of the little town, population 3,700, were inhibitory and disrespectful. Eastwood wanted to erect a small building in the downtown area and was summarily denied the permit by the preservationist town council. He sued the city; won the day. This fight with city hall, the proverbial winner of all battles, led him to think of entering into a political life. He stated categorically that this was not a stepping stone to greater political aspirations; he was strictly local.

His campaign against incumbent Charlotte Townsend contained no mudslinging. He gave no interviews to the national press and remained strictly adhered to the local scene. He had almost no paid advertising. He did have buttons and bumper stickers and ran a polite, tasteful political campaign, almost anathema to the US political system. He refused autographs when out in public. His campaign slogan was “Bringing the Community Together” and stressed his desire to build bridges between the business and residential communities. On this day, the voters came out and with twice the normal turnout, elected Eastwood with 72.5% of the votes going to him.

During his one and only term in office, he was able to fulfill his duties to his own satisfaction. The $200 monthly salary did not go to his head and he was able to effect change within Carmel-by-the-Sea. One of his achievements was to make it easier for citizens to build or renovate property. He was also able to get a tourist parking lot constructed. The Mission Ranch was remodeled and the landscape on which it sat was preserved and the 80 condominiums which were in the plans were not built. The most impressive of his innovations, at least in his own eyes, was the building of an annex to the library and dedicated as a children’s library. Although he claimed to have enjoyed the experience, he did not run for a second term.

After the election and with the large margin win, another actor called to congratulate Eastwood. President Ronald Reagan joked about their respective pasts, each having acted at one time with a monkey. Eastwood’s Every Which Way But Loose and Reagan’s Bedtime for Bonzo. Being the mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea was not a full time occupation and during the two years Eastwood held the post, he also worked at his “day job”. He produced, directed, and starred in Heartbreak Ridge. He also produced and directed Bird, the movie which brought him his first major award for filmmaking. For that movie, he received Best Director at the Golden Globe awards.

We got things built – beach walkways, a library annex which had been waiting 25 years, and so on. I approached it from a business point of view, not a political one.

I have a very strict gun control policy: if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.

Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.

I tried being reasonable, I didn’t like it. – all from Clint Eastwood

Also on this day: Punch Without Judy – In 1992, the last issue of Punch magazine hits the newsstands.
Venus de Milo – In 1820, the famous statue was found on Melos.
 Winchester Cathedral – In 1093, the new Winchester Cathedral was dedicated.
Working Class – In 1935, the WPA was created.

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